ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We learned last week the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez paid just a couple bucks shy of $2,700 for a coffee maker for the public kitchen at the Governor’s Mansion in Santa Fe.
Heck, I didn’t know you could spend that much on a coffee maker. So, I investigated.
What the General Services Department purchased was a model CVA4066SS 24 made by Miele, the German-based manufacturer of high-end appliances for the home.
As you might expect, this isn’t your father’s coffee maker. There are YouTube videos about its marvels. I also learned from YouTube that Miele is pronounced MEE-luh.
The coffee maker, with stainless steel finishes and about the size of a large microwave oven, is installed into a kitchen cabinet or wall and plumbed for water. There is a container to hold coffee beans and a tank for milk.
The beans are ground on demand, but the grinder can be bypassed by loading the machine with ground coffee. How bourgeois!
Using the main menu on the coffee maker’s touchscreen, you can select a plain cup of Joe, but there are more exciting options: cappuccino, espresso and latte macchiato. The machine also dispenses hot milk, milk froth and hot water.
By the way, you can program the touchscreen in one of seven languages.
There do seem to be two big drawbacks to the Miele model CVA4066SS 24. It dispenses only one cup at a time, and it can be a pain to clean because of the milk and the scaling from water. The milk frothing system requires specialized cleaning tablets.
GSD purchased the coffee maker as part of a $100,000-plus renovation of the kitchen and adjacent areas on the Governor’s Mansion’s public side, which is used by the governor and nonprofit groups for events.
The governor lives in a private wing with its own kitchen but has the run of the whole place.
Administration officials say Martinez approved a $375 coffee maker as part of the renovation but General Services purchased the Miele because it doesn’t take up needed counter space.
A GSD official said the agency has been discussing for several months the possibility of getting private donations to offset some of the renovation costs.
Those discussions may have gotten a lot more serious after the story of the $2,700 coffee maker hit the airwaves and newspapers.
Opponents of Martinez, a Republican, are causing a “brewhaha” over the coffee maker.
The state Democratic Party has accused the governor of living a “highfalutin’ Santa Fe lifestyle.” The left-wing ProgressNow New Mexico is offering “Sell the Coffeemaker!” T-shirts for $50 donations.
You might remember Martinez’s “Sell the Jet!” billboards from the 2010 gubernatorial campaign when she pledged to unload the Cessna aircraft purchased by the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson for $5.5 million.
Martinez sold the jet about eight months after taking office. In her first State of the State address to the Legislature, she called the aircraft the “ultimate symbol of waste and excess.”
The governor, also a critic of Richardson’s expenses at the mansion, cut the staff there from five to three and reduced salaries. The administration claims savings of about $195,000 in annual operating costs for the mansion.
A Miele model CVA4066SS 24 isn’t a jet, but a coffee maker that costs $2,700 and brews one cup at a time is also a symbol of something.
Installation of the coffee maker could mean fewer trips by Martinez to Starbucks, where the governor is known to order a caramel macchiato. You can make one of those with the Miele model CVA4066SS 24; you just have to add the vanilla syrup and caramel drizzle by hand.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at email@example.com or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal